Much more needs to be done to promote the uptake of direct
payments particularly among people with mental health problems,
according to Hugh Henry, deputy minister for community care.
Henry was speaking after the publication of the Scottish
executive’s latest research document, ‘Direct What?’, a study
into the uptake of direct payments by those using mental health
services. The researchers found that only two people with mental
health problems had taken up direct payments since its introduction
in 1996 in Scotland.
Henry said: “We know from earlier research that direct payments
can offer disabled people greater choice and control over the
delivery of their community care support needs. That research found
few if any disadvantages to direct payments and that it can benefit
not only recipients, but also families and social work
The research also found that awareness of how direct payments
work was low among professionals, and uptake of the facility was
poor among all service users in spite of the executive allocating
£530,000 to direct payments Scotland, a two- year project
aimed at helping increase awareness, last April.
Only 16 out of the 32 local authorities had operational direct
payments schemes, with only 10 councils planning to include people
with mental health problems. In total, there are only 213
recipients of direct payments in the whole country.
The research identified a number of ways to support people with
mental health problems or dementia with direct payments. These
include ensuring clarity about eligibility, making plans when
people become too ill to manage, making procedures more accessible
and easy to understand and using independent organisations who
understand mental health problems to support applicants.
Henry said: “We firmly believe that direct payments
have potential which can be unlocked if they can be made available
to more people and publicised more widely.”